Second engineer says moving historic Urrbrae gatehouse is ‘100 per cent feasible’

The State Government was formally advised by not one – but two – engineers that relocating a state heritage-listed gatehouse at Urrbrae was feasible, but is pressing ahead with plans to bulldoze it, it’s been revealed.

It comes as a transport and infrastructure department official today revealed it would cost about $900,000 plus pre and post work.

Despite reports saying a move is possible, the Government has decided to demolish the gatehouse on the corner of Cross Road and Fullarton Road, built in 1890 and linked to the University of Adelaide’s Urrbrae House historic precinct, to make way for a road-widening project.

Engineer Matt Manifold, managing director of Mammoth Movers, was commissioned several months ago to provide advice to the Government on the feasibility of moving the building.

He said it was “100 per cent feasible to move it”.

“From a technical point of view, (it’s) completely feasible,” he told InDaily.

His comments follow a study by FMG Engineering – released last week – that also states relocating the historic building “is feasible”. It details how it could be done to minimise damage to the structure.

However, the Government has justified its decision to demolish the building based on this report, telling The Advertiser that the study found that moving the gatehouse was too expensive and likely to be unsuccessful. Transport and Infrastructure Minister Corey Wingard also put out a media release on Friday saying it was “not feasible” to move the building.

Manifold told InDaily this morning: “There are all different routes that could be taken to get to wherever you’ve got to go.”

He said his equipment included “pretty clever technology” to enable the move.

“The equipment is beautiful in that regard in that it’s not a trailer,” he said.

“I think everyone thinks when you’re going to move a building like this it’s going to sit on a trailer. It doesn’t do that.”

Manifold said his moving equipment had independent sets of wheels “and you can point them wherever you need to point them so you can make the building go sideways, forwards, spin around, you can do everything”.

The historic gatehouse on the corner of Cross Road and Fullarton Road is set to be demolished. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Wingard this morning told ABC Radio Adelaide there were problems with both keeping the building where it is and relocating it, related to losing significant trees and people’s homes.

“If it was retained where it is we would lose 18 homes, if we moved it there were 14 heritage or significant trees I’m told that would have to go and that wasn’t acceptable,” he said.

InDaily asked the minister’s office for further clarification and in a written statement a spokesperson said moving the gatehouse would lead to the demolition of eight significant trees, 20-30 “amenity trees”, with 24-38 trees “potentially impacted”.

“Of the total, there (are) at least 14 trees which have heritage or scientific significance,” the spokesperson said.

Responding to Manifold’s comments that moving the building was feasible, the spokesperson said the details were “commercial in confidence”.

“But in general, moves such as this include exclusions like repairs, responsibility for damage and no warranty for pre-existing structural issues,” the spokesperson said.

“The State Government would also need to do all the preparatory and finishing works.”

The spokesperson said moving the gatehouse “has significant risk as outlined in detail in the report provided last week and the State Government isn’t willing to gamble taxpayer dollars”.

“And as outlined on Friday, leaving the Gatehouse where it is would require the demolition of another 18 people’s homes, the school gymnasium and more trees, which the Minister believes is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.

Manifold told InDaily: “I’m not sure that 14 significant trees will be knocked over as a result of our move. It may be for the whole project, I’m not sure.”

He said “we can work around” significant trees.

“We need about 15 metres clearance behind the building and to the south of the building,” he said.

“I’d welcome talking to the Minister and or the Department to identify what trees are an issue because we’ve got a lot of flexibility with how we can approach this and I’m sure we can avoid a lot of these particular trees that they’re concerned about.

“If the government is interested to explore this further we need a plan of which trees are significant and then we can just look at it and work through it.

“When we were there we did a quick walk to a proposed site and looking at that there were no major trees that would have to come down – we were able to scoot in between some of the larger trees.”

He also said he was confident he could move the building without any damage and had successfully completed multiple such moves in Australia and around the world.

The gatehouse sits on the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus.

The university’s chief operating officer Bruce Lines told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning “we are not terribly impressed” with the project.

“We are not very happy about the gatehouse being knocked down or some trees being removed,” he said.

“We are the custodians of the gatehouse for South Australia.”

He said there was an “appeal process” underway in regards to the decision to demolish the building and “we intend to exhaust every avenue of that appeal process”.

“We are certainly considering options at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve written to Corey Wingard and some other politicians.”

The Department’s transport project delivery executive director Jon Whelan today told parliament’s budget and finance committee the cost of moving the building would be “$900,000 plus or minus 10 per cent”.

“But importantly, there would be a lot of pre-work that had to be undertaken by others and post work undertaken by others,” he said.

The Department’s chief executive Tony Braxton-Smith said: “The assessment of the department is it’s not overall feasible for us to do anything other than demolish it.”

Braxton-Smith agreed the FMG Engineering report said moving the building was feasible but emphasised that was “from a structural point of view”.

He said the report recommended that consideration must be given to a number of issues, “which put us in a position of providing advice to government that it is simply not feasible having regard for all of the circumstances”.

“There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in the rest of FMG’s report that talk about for example two separate extensions and the joints between the different sections… the fact the ceiling is in deteriorating condition, the fact there is rising damp… existing crack damage… and that if it’s moved there may be issues..,” he said.

In a media release put out by Wingard’s office last week fellow minister David Pisoni said “the realisation that retaining the Urrbrae Gatehouse was not feasible was particularly difficult”.

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Odisha Engineer Arrested Over Assets Worth Rs 6.53 Crore, Including 48 One-Bedroom Flats

There are 3 registered companies in the name of his son as director, officials said (Representational)


The anti-corruption vigilance sleuths of Odisha Police on Wednesday arrested an assistant executive engineer (AEE) for having assets worth Rs 6.53 crore including 48 one-bedroom flats, an official said.

The vigilance sleuths on Tuesday conducted simultaneous raids on different properties of AEE Rabindra Nath Pradhan in Bhubaneswar and other places based on the allegation of acquisition of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income.

The other properties of Pradhan included two doublestoried buildings, one single room house, eight plots, two four wheelers, deposits in different banks, investment in insurance policies, gold and silver ornaments, cash and household articles, a vigilance release said.

“Thus, the total assets of Rabindra Nath Pradhan, Assistant Executive Engineer, GPH Division-II, Bhubaneswar and his family members has been calculated as Rs.6,53,86,710,” it said.

There are three registered companies in the name of his son as director.

The official said two of the companies deal with real estate and construction and the third company deals with food processing and preservation. Besides, his son also has a partnership firm dealing with agricultural products.

Pradhan was produced before the Court of Special Judge, Vigilance, Bhubaneswar which sent him to judicial custody till November 3. The court also rejected his bail application, the official note said.

Vigilance SP M Radhakrushna said that Pradhan’s case was the first of its kind in the history of Odisha Vigilance.

“No government official had ever been found possessing such huge properties,” he said.

He said Pradhan could not account for the properties in his possession satisfactorily. A case has been registered under section 13(2), 13(1)(b) Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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What makes pepper spray so intense? And is it a tear gas? A chemical engineer explains

In recent weeks, the world has looked on as governments use chemical irritants to control protesters and riots. Whether it’s tear gas, pepper spray, mace or pepper balls, all have one thing in common: they’re chemical weapons.

Chemical warfare agents have been used twice in Sydney in the past week alone. Police pepper-sprayed demonstrators at Central Station, following Saturday’s major Black Lives Matter protest.

The next day, tear gas was used to break up a fight at Long Bay jail, as prison guards filled an exercise yard with tear gas canisters – also impacting nearby residents.

These events followed the deployment of chemical riot control agents – specifically “pepper bombs” – in Washington DC last week. They were used to clear protesters from a public park so President Donald Trump could walk from the White House to a nearby church for a photo opportunity.

US Attorney General William Barr said “there was no tear gas used”, claiming “pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.”

I’m a chemical engineer and chemist who studies chemicals in the environment. So I thought I’d clear the air about what makes pepper spray such a powerful chemical irritant, and a chemical weapon.

A protestor is treated for the effects of pepper spray after police sprayed protestors inside Sydney’s Central Station after a Black Lives Matter rally


What’s inside pepper spray?

The active compounds in pepper spray are collectively known as capsaicinoids. They are given the military symbol OC, for “oleoresin capsicum”.

The most important chemical in OC is capsaicin. This is derived from chilli peppers in a chemical process that dissolves and concentrates it into a liquid. Capsaicin is the same compound that makes chillies hot, but in an intense, weaponised form.

Not all capsaicinoids are obtained naturally. One called nonivamide (also known as PAVA or pelargonic acid vanillylamide) is mostly made by humans. PAVA is an intense irritant used in artificial pepper spray.

Is pepper spray a tear gas?

We’ve established pepper spray is a chemical, but is it also a kind of tear gas?

“Tear gas” is an informal term and a bit of a misnomer, because it isn’t a gas. Rather, tear gas refers to any weaponised irritant used to immobilise people.

More specifically, tear gas is often used to describe weapons that disperse their irritants in the air either as liquid aerosol droplets (such as gas canisters), or as a powder (such as pepper balls). This definition distinguishes tear gas from personal self-defence sprays which use foams, gels and liquids.

Tear gas canisters typically contain the irritants 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) and phenacyl chloride (CN). Both CS and CN are man-made chemicals discovered in a lab, unlike capsaicin (the traditional ingredient in pepper spray).

But despite capsaicin coming from chilli peppers, pepper spray is still a weaponised irritant that can be delivered as an aerosol or powder. It should unequivocally be considered a type of tear gas.

Pepper spray as a weapon

The chemical irritants OC, CS and CN have military symbols because they are chemical weapons. They are termed “less-lethal” because they are less likely to kill than conventional weapons. Their use, however, can still cause fatalities.

Technically, pepper spray and other tear gases are classified as lachrymatory agents. Lachrymatory agents attack mucous membranes in the eyes and respiratory system.

Pepper spray works almost instantly, forcing the eyes to close and flood with tears. Coupled with coughing fits and difficulty breathing, this means the targeted person is effectively blinded and incapacitated. Because lachrymatory agents work on nerve receptors that help us sense heat, they also induce an intense burning sensation.

A protester is assisted with a solution to help neutralize the effects of tear gas fired by police outside the Minneapolis 5th Police Precinct

A protester is assisted with a solution to help neutralize the effects of tear gas fired by police outside the Minneapolis 5th Police Precinct


The combined effects of pepper spray can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour.

Lachrymatory agents emerged on the battlefields of World War I. Artillery shells were filled with chemicals such as xylyl bromide and chloroacetone and fired at enemy soldiers. Agents that induce choking, blistering and vomiting were added as the chemical arms race escalated.

In the 1920s, the Geneva Protocol was enacted to ban the use of indiscriminate and often ineffective chemical weapons on the battlefield. Today, the unjustified use of chemical riot control agents threatens to erode the systems that are meant to protect us from the most dangerous weaponised chemicals.

Gabriel da Silva does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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